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118 The three kingdoms

Collier, but even the evidence drawn from the stance taken at Sardica on
appeals was not suYcient to vindicate claims to a universal Roman
supremacy.“• Geddes went a step further in his Essay on the canons of the
Council of Sardica (1706), with his contention that the relevant canons
were retrospective forgeries.“’ More judicious, despite his provocative
title “ Roman forgeries in the Councils during the Wrst four centuries “ was
Thomas Comber: the Sardican changes had been ˜prodigiously magni-
Wed™ by Romanists, though the Council had merely ˜put a new compli-
ment on the Pope, [which] did not take away the ancient method of
appealing from a lesser synod to a greater™.““
Anglicans defended their historic autonomy on the grounds that the
authority of the Roman patriarchate had been limited in its geographical
scope. Contrary to Roman claims, it had not extended over the whole of
western Europe. The local argument for the primitive independence of
the British churches from Roman jurisdiction was allied here to a broader
investigation of the scope of the papacy™s authority in the Wrst centuries.
Anglican historians argued that the patriarchal authority of the papacy
had been conWned to the ˜suburbicary™ churches in the Italian peninsula.
The British era was important to the case that the English church lay
outside the patriarchal jurisdiction of the papacy. Cave and others argued
that the institution of patriarchal authority was a post-Nicene invention:
there had been no authority superior to a metropolitan in the ecclesiasti-
cal hierarchy of the Christian church during its Wrst three centuries.““
According to the non-juring Smith, ˜no churches were within the Roman
patriarchate, which were not in the provinces under the Roman vicarius™.
The British church was ˜comprehended under those other independent
churches, whose privileges were secured™ by the sixth canon of the Coun-
cil of Nicaea. In other words, these churches were ˜subject to none but
their own metropolitans and their provincial synods™.“” As late as the
1750s Ferdinando Warner would restate the full historic constitutional
position with forceful clarity.”»
“• Collier, Ecclesiastical history, I, p. 77. See also StillingXeet, Origines Britannicae, pp. 136,
142.
“’ Geddes, An essay on the canons of the Council of Sardica, particularly on that which relates to
appeals to Rome (London, 1706), in Geddes, Miscellaneous tracts, vol. III.
““ Thomas Comber, Roman forgeries in the councils during the Wrst four centuries, in Gibson, A
preservative against Popery, III, pp. 81“2. See also Thomas Traherne, Roman forgeries or a
true account of false records discovering the impostures and counterfeit antiquities of the Church
of Rome (London, 1673).
““ Cave, Dissertation concerning the government of the ancient church, esp. ch. 4; Brerewood,
˜Patriarchall government of the ancient church™; Bingham, Origines ecclesiasticae, I,
p. 347.
“” George Smith, Britons and Saxons not converted to Popery, pp. 285“6. See also Inett,
Origines Anglicanae, I, pp. 27“8, 33“4, 128.
”» Warner, Ecclesiastical history, I, pp. 19“20.
Britons, Saxons and Anglican quest for legitimacy 119

The threat of Rome was not the only problem to which the British past
oVered a solution. In the second half of the seventeenth century the
ancient British past was to become even more important to Anglicans.
For now they were confronted with a powerful presbyterian challenge to
the legitimacy of episcopal government whose evidence was culled from
Scotland™s early church history. Because the primitive era in the past of
the Scottish church appeared to yield not only proto-Protestant but
proto-presbyterian precedents, the early centuries of Christianity in the
British Isles assumed new importance as a principal theatre of debate
between presbyterians and Anglicans. Of the various arguments against
episcopacy, declared William Lloyd (1627“1717), the English-born
Bishop of St Asaph, there was none that had ˜made more noise in the
world, or that hath given more colour to the cause of our adversaries, than
that which they have drawn from the example of the ancient Scottish
church™.”¦
Scots presbyterians claimed that there had been an ancient non-episco-
pal Christian church in Scotland from around AD 200. However, Eng-
lish, Welsh and Irish scholars argued that the history of the Scots in
Scotland before AD 500 was a Wgment of chauvinistic imagination. For
centuries after the conversion of the shadowy King Donald I, so the Scots
presbyterians claimed, the church in Scotland had been governed without
bishops; instead there had been government by colleges of monks or
Culdees without any episcopal supervision.”  Anglican commentators
were keenly aware that the propagation of this antiquarian thesis had been
attended by dangerous practical consequences; for, when the Scots had
˜covenanted against episcopacy they had only used their own right; and
thrown out that which was a confessed innovation, in order to the
restoring of that which was their primitive government™.”À Furthermore,
this ancient presbyterian constitution of the Scottish church had been
seized upon with relish by the French Huguenot scholar David Blondel
(1590“1655) as a vital example from the primitive era of a non-episcopal
church.ӈ Closer to home, this argument also oVered succour to English
Dissenters such as Richard Baxter (1615“91), who desired a non-prelati-
cal Church of England.”• The appearance in England of the dangerous

”¦ William Lloyd, An historical account of church-government as it was in Great-Britain and
Ireland when they Wrst received the christian religion (London, 1684), ˜Preface™.
”  C. Kidd, Subverting Scotland™s past (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 22“4.
”À Lloyd, Historical account, ˜Preface™.
ӈ David Blondel, Apologia pro sententia Hieronymi de episcopis et presbyteris (Amsterdam,
1646), p. 315.
”• Richard Baxter, A treatise of episcopacy (London, 1681), p. 224. See the anti-Baxterian
Henry Maurice, A vindication of the primitive church, and diocesan episcopacy (London,
1682), pp. 563“5.
120 The three kingdoms

Scots presbyterian precedent of rule by Culdees seemed to undermine the
patristic case for primitive episcopacy. The argument was met by Lloyd,
who challenged the authenticity not only of anti-episcopal interpretations
of Scotland™s past, but also of the whole ludicrous farrago of legends
which composed Scottish antiquity.”’ This provoked in turn a response
from Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, who, while sympathetic to the
bishop™s ecclesiological position, argued that he had undermined the
monarchy whose glorious genealogy stretched back to King Fergus Mac-
Ferquhard in 330 BC.”“ During the heated debates which preceded the
Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, the history of the ancient British church
provided arguments for the Church of England™s metropolitan authority
over Scotland.”“
We can now see why Anglicans felt the need to resort to British
precedent. More intractable, however, is the question of how Anglicans
squared the ethnological contradictions of a hybrid British“Saxon ˜ances-
try™. Indeed, to read Anglican historical polemic is to encounter very little
soul-searching about the extent and propriety of the modern “ and,
otherwise, proudly Saxon “ English nation claiming an ecclesiastical
descent from the Britons, except for some evasive tetchiness on the part of
Fuller: ˜Sure, Helen [mother of Constantine] was as properly an English-
woman as Alban an Englishman, being both British in the rigid letter of
history; and yet may be interpreted English in the equity thereof.™”” Yet,
by what right did Anglicans think that they could lay claim to the mantle
of the primitive church of the Britons which their very own Saxon ances-
tors had expelled from England into Wales? A possible solution is hinted
at in Inett™s Origines Anglicanae. Inett narrates that ˜the conquest of Wales
by King Henry I united the British to the English church™.¦»» This con-
quest, or the subsequent formal union of the Welsh principality to the
kingdom of England in 1536, may have provided justiWcation for the
appropriation of what was, in eVect, the ancient church history of the
Welsh. There had been a similar argument in the work of Basire.¦»¦ A
vaguer suggestion appears in George Smith™s history to the eVect that the
Britons maintained their religious ˜freedom and independency, until a
change in the aVairs of the British nation did, in after ages, bring both
their church and state to submit to the English establishment™.¦»  Warner
”’ Lloyd, Historical account; A. Tindal Hart, William Lloyd 1627“1717 (London, 1952),
pp. 92“3.
”“ Sir George Mackenzie, A defence of the antiquity of the royal line of Scotland (1685) and The
antiquity of the royal line of Scotland further cleared and defended (1686), both in Mackenzie,
Works (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1716“22), II.
”“ C. Kidd, ˜Religious realignment between the Restoration and the Union™, in J. Robertson
(ed.), A union for empire (Cambridge, 1995), p. 164.
”” Fuller, Church history, I, p. 40. ¦»» Inett, Origines Anglicanae, II, p. 489.
¦»¦ Basire, Ancient liberty of the Britannick church, p. 25.
¦»  George Smith, Britons and Saxons not converted to Popery, p. 429.
Britons, Saxons and Anglican quest for legitimacy 121

linked the British church to the incorporation of the British state within
the English nation: ˜In all probability the changes in the British church
followed those of the state; and that at the same time, and by the same
steps, by which that nation became obedient to the Kings of England,
their church submitted to, and became a member of the English
church.™¦»À Nevertheless, the mechanism of appropriation is never spelt
out. In all probability, there may have been an assumption that any
ecclesiastical establishment on English soil would have merited inclusion
within the history of the ecclesia anglicana. Complete continuity was not
imperative, especially if there had only been a brief hiatus of a few
centuries in the long history of the uncorrupted church. According to
Nathaniel Bacon, the Britons ˜were the last of all the churches of Europe
that gave their power to the Roman beast; and Henry the Eighth, that
came of that blood by Teuther, the Wrst that took away that power
again™.¦»Ã

By the second half of the eighteenth century, the British identity of the
Church of England was in decline. With the rise of Enlightenment and
the end of outright confessional warfare, Rome no longer posed the same
sort of aggressive challenge to Anglican legitimacy. Nevertheless, Angli-
cans continued to pay some lip-service to the traditional ecclesiastical
histories formulated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.¦»• In-
deed, the matter of the ancient British church featured prominently in the
rhetoric of Welsh Anglican opposition to Catholic Emancipation.
Thomas Burgess (d. 1837), Bishop of St David™s (and, later, of Salis-
bury), gloried in the knowledge that ˜the Church of Britain was a Protes-
tant church nine centuries before the days of Luther™. Not only had the
primitive church of the Britons been ˜apostolical and independent™, but
from the arrival of Augustine ˜a truly Protestant church™, not only by
˜protesting against the corruptions of superstition, images and idolatry™,
but also by rejecting the authority of the pope and ˜all communion with
the Church of Rome™.¦»’
Although displaced from the forefront of Anglican apologetic, the

¦»À Warner, Ecclesiastical history, I, p. 308.
¦»Ã Bacon, Historical and political discourse, p. 13.
¦»• J. Walsh and S. Taylor, ˜Introduction: the church and Anglicanism in the ˜˜long™™
eighteenth century™, in J. Walsh, C. Haydon and S. Taylor (eds.), The Church of England
c. 1689“c. 1833: from toleration to Tractarianism (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 58“9.
¦»’ Thomas Burgess, ˜A sermon on the Wrst seven epochs of the ancient British church™,
p. 143, and ˜A second letter from the Bishop of St David™s to the clergy of his diocese; on
the independence of the ancient British church on any foreign jurisdiction™, p. 106, both
in Thomas Burgess, Tracts on the origin and independence of the ancient British church (2nd
edn, London, 1815). See also Thomas Burgess, Christ and not Saint Peter, the rock of the
Christian church; and St Paul the founder of the church in Britain (Carmarthen, 1812), esp.
pp. 42“3, 45“6.
122 The three kingdoms

ancient British church had in the course of the eighteenth century become
part of the broader cultural identity of the English people. In particular,
the revival of historical painting in the middle of the eighteenth century
led certain English artists to explore the visual possibilities inherent in the
story of British Christian origins. Francis Hayman inaugurated this minor
patriotic genre with The Druids; or, the conversion of the Britons to Christian-
ity (1752), and in 1764 John Hamilton Mortimer won the one hundred
guineas top prize oVered by the Society of Arts for the best historical
painting for St Paul preaching to the ancient Britons. By the middle of the
nineteenth century the heroism of the ancient British church had become
an established and popular theme, in works such as J. R. Herbert™s The
Wrst preaching of Christianity in Britain (1842), E. T. Parris™s ˜Joseph of
Arimathea converting the Britons™ (1843) and, most famously, William
Holman Hunt™s A converted British family sheltering a Christian priest from
the persecution of the Druids (1850).¦»“
¦»“ I. Haywood, The making of history (Cranbury, NJ, 1986), p. 59; S. Smiles, The image of
antiquity (New Haven and London, 1994), pp. 97“100, 105“7.
6 The Gaelic dilemma in early modern Scottish
political culture




In early modern Scotland Gaeldom deWned the historic essence of na-
tionhood, yet also represented an alien otherness. The history, much of it
mythical, of the Gaelic Scots of the ancient west Highland kingdom of
Dalriada stood proxy for the early history of the whole Scottish nation.
This matter of Dalriada provided precedents for Scotland™s ancient con-
stitutions in church and state, and formed the basis of Scotland™s claims
to independence from English suzerainty. However, the early modern
period also witnessed a conscious design on the part of Lowland elites to
extirpate contemporary Gaeldom, and to assimilate the Gaelic High-
landers to Lowland standards and values in every sphere of life: culture,
public order, law, religion and language. This intolerance of Gaelic
˜diVerence™ transcended political and ecclesiastical divisions, which rest-
ed, ironically, on arguments drawn from the Dalriadic past.


The making of early modern Scottish identity
The origins of this situation lie deep in the medieval Scottish past. The
nation of Scotland had its origins in the incorporation of the Scotic and
Pictish gentes in the eighth and ninth centuries. The kingdom of Alba
which united Scots and Picts had its centre of gravity in the Pictish
kingdom of Fortriu, but the importance of the Gaelic Columban church
in the Christianising of Scotland may have contributed to the ascendancy
of Gaelic language and culture in the new nation and to the complete
disappearance of Pictish. During the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries
the kingdom of Alba grew to incorporate the Lothians, which had previ-
ously constituted the northern part of Anglian Bernicia, and the south-
western British kingdom of Strathclyde. The various peoples who com-
posed the emerging kingdom, including the Dalriadic Scots, Picts,
Strathclyde and Galwegian Britons, and Northumbrians, as well as
Anglo-Norman and Flemish immigrants, were gradually amalgamated
123
124 The three kingdoms

under a Scotic umbrella identity as the regnum Scottorum. Although the
Scottish regnal line included some Pictish as well as Dalriadic“Scottish
kings, the monarchy which was to form the core of Scottish identity was
clearly linked to the early history of Dalriada. The Scottish War of
Independence Wrmly established the Scotic identity of the nation. In
particular, the Anglo-Scottish propaganda warfare of the late thirteenth
and early fourteenth centuries linked Scottish independence to the
ancient autonomy of the Dalriadic Scots as a means of rebutting the claim
derived from the Brut legend that the Plantagenet monarchy enjoyed
suzerainty over the whole island of Britain. The history of the Gaelic
Scots had become the national history of all-Scotland; indeed this par-
ticular ethnic past justiWed the sovereignty of the whole.¦
However, the idea of the Highland“Lowland divide also originated in
the fourteenth century just as the various ethnic origin myths of the
Scottish peoples were giving way to a widely accepted Dalriadic version.
The irony of this situation is apparent in the inXuential chronicle by John
of Fordun (c. 1320“c. 1384) which in response to English claims asserted
a long history of Scottish independence on the basis of an imagined and
extended Dalriadic history. Yet Fordun also launched a critique of the
savage and uncouth Highlanders, whom he contrasted with the trusty,
decent people of the Lowland seaboard. Fordun represents an emerging
and undeWned Lowland consciousness which included a strong antipathy
to the Highlands, yet was nevertheless too vague and tentative to displace
the national myth of the Scots as the heirs of Dalriada. 

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